When nurturers need nurturing: Seaside Spa A Welcome Retreat


Photo: Enjoying a spa day at the Cliff House are (from l to r) Gina, Debi and Sondra

By Sondra L. Shapiro

CAPE NEDDICK, MAINE — What’s better than a day spent with your girlfriends? How about spending that time relaxing and getting pampered at a spa perched on Bald Head Cliff on Maine’s southern coast.

Please don’t be jealous. You, too, can while away the hours gazing at the ocean from a comfy chaise, sipping herbal tea, only to be interrupted by a well-meaning and more-than-welcome practitioner who wants to massage your aching muscles into jelly or wrap you in a cocoon of exotic oils.

All you need to do is book time at the Spa at Cliff House. And, that’s what Debi, Gina and I did on a blustery spring day.

The cliff side sun lounge sanctuary (photo by sondra shapiro)

Badly in need of some TLC, we stole hours from work stress, parent- and grandchild-care responsibilities to replenish body and soul. Among the three of us, there were massages, facials and body treatments.

Between appointments we took a sauna, steam or basked in languid contemplation and light conversation from the comfort of the cliff side sun lounge sanctuary. The soothing retreat has only a wall of glass separating guests from the craggy coast.

Sometimes I just gazed at the waves and let my mind go blank. People who know me would question my ability to Zen out — but the fact that I did is a testament to the design and atmosphere that encourages such behavior. Other times I chatted with similarly fortunate souls taking time out of their busy schedules to unwind. An aunt was there with her niece to relax before the aunt’s upcoming marriage; a retired couple bragged of spa visits all over the world (and rated the Cliff House as one of the best); and two girlfriends gave the impression they were regulars as they shared the various services they had experienced.

The spa is part of a recent transformation of the once locally owned hotel resort, which is now under the Destination Hotels umbrella.

An Excellent Match

The 70-acre site seems a natural fit since the resort beach towns of southern Maine surround it. With 9,000 square feet of cozy spaces that offer comfort, luxury and a state-of the art fitness center —  boasting the latest in cardio technology, strength machines, free weights and workout accessories — the spa/fitness center alone is worth a stay at the new resort.

Otherwise, a day trip is a must for anyone wanting to escape from a hectic vacation schedule of crowded beaches, restaurants, bars and shops. In fact, it is as though the design and services were always meant to attract the community at large.

The spa houses seven single treatment rooms, one adjacent double signature suite treatment retreat, five standard facial and massage rooms and a full-service salon, which is comprised of four manicure and pedicure chairs and a make-up and brow bar.

Services run the gamut from a simple manicure to 80-minute body treatments. According to its literature, the spa espouses a “wild & free” mantra with its skincare line and body treatments that include “vitality rituals, customizable hydration experiences and bio-rejuvenating facials.”

Decor done in soothing earth tones with splashes of light aqua (photo by sondra shapiro)

The design — soothing earth tones with splashes of light aqua — and products are inspired by the Maine coast. Body treatments include Water, Stone, Sun and Sea and massages are named Seacoast Rose, Salt of the Sea and Elemental Harmonizer.

Yet, a spa is only as good as its practitioners and this is where the Cliff House excels with its highly skilled massage and treatment therapists.

Pampered From The Start

From the moment we arrived early morning until we left very late afternoon, we were made to feel special. Charissa Kerr, spa concierge, was a sight for sore eyes when my tired bones stepped through the door. “Would you like some tea?” Hot, fragrant beverage in hand, Charissa led me to the women’s lounge area, cheerfully revealing its offerings: Sauna, steam, showers, lockers nestled within walls of peaceful blues and beiges with décor hinting of the beach.

Sondra drifting off during her Sun treatment

After changing into my spa-supplied robe, I was greeted by Jeanine, who was assigned to perform my 80-minute Sun body treatment. Under the category of “Elemental Inspiration,” the Sun started with a body exfoliation scrub using papaya, macadamia, sugar and salt, then a body wrap comprised of cucumber and aloe, a relaxing scalp acupressure massage topped off by a body rub using frangipani, jasmine and tuberose oils.

Thing is, I don’t understand why they would describe this treatment as being “energizing,” because when my therapist quietly left the room after 80 minutes I could barely raise my head. Yet, I couldn’t waste too much time, since I needed to muster the strength to get to my 50-minute deep tissue massage.

Food For Body And Soul

My only complaint — and I feel foolish even mentioning it — is that my mind and body were so relaxed that the thought of shedding my robe for street cloths to leave the spa’s sheltering bliss in search of lunch had little appeal. But, after all, one cannot live on unlimited hot tea alone to satisfy hunger.

Many spas put out complimentary bowls of fresh fruit or offer a spa menu. Instead, my friend shared half of a sandwich she ordered from the hotel’s main restaurant. Fortunately, the Cliff House is planning to offer a spa menu soon.

A nice touch at the end of the day was the complimentary glasses of prosecco that Charissa brought us. Glasses of sparkling wine in hand, Debi, Gina and I toasted to time well spent away from the mental and physical strains of our lives. But most importantly, we felt proud that we remembered to take care of ourselves, something woman often forget to do. We nurturers sometimes need nurturing ourselves.

For more information call 207-361-1000 or visit https://www.destinationhotels.com/cliff-house



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